REVIEW: Black Lips’ “Sing…In a World That’s Falling Apart” Embraces Grime and Joy


The consistently mercurial Black Lips shift again on their first release since 2017’s Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?. The Atlanta-based globe-trotting punks lean hard into jangly country roots on their latest release, Sing…In a World That’s Falling Apart. Recorded and co-produced with Nic Jodoin at Laurel Canyon’s legendary Valentine Recording Studios and out via Fire Records on January 24th, Sing…In a World That’s Falling Apart features the current Black Lips line-up of Cole Alexander (vocals, guitar), Jared Swilly (vocals, bass), Oakley Munson (drums), Zumi Rosow (vocals, saxophone, harmonica), Jeff Clarke (vocals, guitar).

There’s no Nashville in this country, the Black Lips make country music that sounds more at home in a rundown trailer park than on music row. It is in this embrace of the grime and rough edges of life that let the joy and humor in these songs shine through. There’s an honesty on display in this collection that is often lost in more traditionally serious and less self-effacing polished Nash-Vegas product. A mix of rockabilly and out of tune guitars recall Hasil Adkins over Trace Adkins.

Several tracks percolate to the top of this collection including, “Hooker John” with its Hasil Adkins out of tune guitar romp,

“Rumbler,” an exploration of the history of GI Joe character Rumbler who was based on lead singer Swilly’s uncle over a bouncy bass, running guitar lines, and traveling harmonica. “Gentleman” kicks off with the snarky lines, “this old middle finger has grown fat and tired from flicking the bird, my mouth has grown can cancerous from spitting dirty words…I found out the hard was that the pathway to her heart is not through her nose,” before concluding, “and she wants a gentleman, nothing more than just a gentle friend…(but) it’s getting hard to lie through my teeth cause they’re rotted out and their not all there.”

“Odelia” and “Dishonest Man” sneak in a bit of surf rock influence to kick the backwoods weirdness to the next level with great success. The record lets its Laurel Canyon recording setting seep on the sonic anomaly “Locust,” while the lyrics maintain the punk scoff, “you kept the linen clean but you couldn’t keep the dirt off of me…I’d rather eat the soap that was meant to wash the dirt from me.” The carnival through an AM radio Felice Brothers leaning “Live Fast Die Slow” closes Sing…In a World That’s Falling Apart on a disorienting but somehow welcoming and comforting note. “Live fast die slow…in a world that’s falling apart” seems to be the Black Lips mantra and not too bad a way to live.

Full of snicker and sneer the Black Lips have added another classic record to their constantly expanding catalogue. Sing…in a World That’s Falling Apart provides an apt soundtrack to the uncertain times in which we live. Humor, heartbreak, heroism, and hedonism are all here waiting to be heard to a mix of cooked country grit – there’s no Nashville polish here and these songs are all the better for it – with hints of garage rock to keep these punks shaking. Pick up a copy of the latest work from the Black Lips and find a moment respite from in a world that’s falling apart.

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